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Tackling Alberta’s Skilled Labour Shortage Means Investing in Education

Canada’s skilled labour shortage is reaching a crisis point. A report last year from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) should concern all Canadians, not just policymakers. Based on input from over 560 manufacturers in 17 industries across the country, the survey found that almost two-thirds had lost or turned down contracts and experienced production delays due to a lack of workers, including welders, machinists, and industrial mechanics. 

The cost to the Canadian economy has been considerable. According to the CME, the penalties and lost sales resulting from the labour shortage totalled more than $7 billion. Postponed or cancelled capital projects resulted in another $5.4 billion in lost investment. And that’s just the manufacturing sector. The energy, transportation, advanced manufacturing and construction industries are also struggling to find and keep the workers they need. 

Alberta, in particular, stands to lose out. In September, the Resource Diversification Council (RDC) released a report examining the economic and employment impacts of $22 billion of proposed projects in the province. According to the RDC, the projects will boost Alberta’s GDP by over $100 billion and generate nearly $32 billion in tax revenue. The catch? They’ll require more than 20,000 skilled workers at a time when the construction industry is already experiencing severe shortages.

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